• Indonesia

    • Indonesia, country located off the coast of mainland Southeast Asia in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
    • It is an archipelago that lies across the Equator and spans a distance equivalent to one-eighth of Earth’s circumference.
    • Its islands can be grouped into the Greater Sunda Islands of Sumatra (Sumatera), Java (Jawa), the southern extent of Borneo (Kalimantan), and Celebes (Sulawesi); the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara) of Bali and a chain of islands that runs eastward through Timor; the Moluccas (Maluku) between Celebes and the island of New Guinea; and the western extent of New Guinea (generally known as Papua).
    • The capital, Jakarta, is located near the northwestern coast of Java.
    • In the early 21st century Indonesia was the most populous country in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous in the world.

    Indonesia has so much to offer, here are some of the things Indonesia is known for.

    Komodo National Park

    Indonesia’s best-known national park: comprises several islands and some of the country's richest waters within its 1817 sq km. Expect hulking mountainous islands blanketed in savannah, laced with trails and patrolled by the world’s largest lizard – the Komodo dragon. That’s the big draw here, and it’s easy to spot them, but there’s also big nature beneath the water's surface where polychromatic bait draw big pelagics such as sharks and manta rays in great numbers. Nearby Labuan Bajo, on the island of Flores, is the perfect traveller base.

    Gili Islands

    One of Indonesia’s greatest joys is hopping on a fast boat from busy Bali and arriving on one of the irresistible Gili Islands:. Think sugar-white sand, bathtub-warm, turquoise waters and wonderful beach resorts and bungalows just begging you to extend your stay. Not to mention the coral reefs, which are teeming with sharks, rays and turtles. Savour the dining and nightlife on Gili Trawangan, the perfect balance of Gili Air and the pint-sized charms of Gili Meno. Or simply do nothing at all.

    Balinese Dance

    Enjoying a Balinese dance performance is a highlight of a visit to Indonesia's most famous holiday island. The haunting sounds, elaborate costumes, careful choreography and even light-hearted comic routines add up to great entertainment. Swept up in the spectacle, you'll soon understand why Balinese culture is among the world's most developed. The music that often accompanies traditional dance is based around an ensemble known as a gamelan. The melodic, sometimes upbeat and sometimes haunting percussion is a night-time staple of life in Ubud:, Bali's cultural centre.

    Kapuas Hulu

    At the headwaters of the Sungai Kapuas:, Indonesia's longest river, everything you need for a primal jungle adventure awaits. Step into the past at Kalimantan's oldest longhouse perched high on its gnarled ironwood pillars. Snake through Danau Sentarum's photogenic mudflats on narrow fish-packed waterways that are seasonally submerged. Soak up the port town of Putussibau. Tackle roiling rapids and leech-infested forests on the epic Cross-Borneo Trek. Or strike off into the darkest corner of the island in search of new rainforest species in Betung Kerihun National Park.

    Tana Toraja

    Life revolves around death in this region of rice terraces, boat-shaped roofs and doe-eyed buffalo in Sulawesi. Tana Torajan: funeral ceremonies involve days of prayer, feasting and dances, as well as water-buffalo fights and animal sacrifices, before the deceased is brought to his or her resting place. This can be carved into a cliff-face, or be a cave or hanging graves suspended from cave edges. Travellers should be aware that they may see mummified bodies, that water-buffalo fights may be difficult to watch and that animal sacrifices are bloody.

    Banda Islands

    The Banda Islands: offer a rich and intoxicating cocktail of history, culture and raw natural beauty. This remote archipelago draped in jungle and clove and nutmeg trees, fringed with white sand and surrounded by clear blue seas and pristine reefs, kick-started European colonisation and helped shape the modern world. Fly to the capital – Bandaneira – from Ambon, stroll the shady streets, admire late-colonial relics, then charter a boat to the outer islands, where awesome beaches and jaw-dropping underwater drop-offs and coral await, and village life is warm and easy.

    Tanjung Puting National Park

    The African Queen meets jungle safari in this ever-popular national park: in southern Kalimantan, where you can not only get up close and personal with Asia's largest ape, the orang-utan, but also cruise the jungle in high style aboard your own private klotok (local canoe with water-pump motor). The typically three-day journey takes you on a round trip up the Sungai Sekonyer to Camp Leakey, with stops at several orang-utan feeding stations and plenty of impromptu wildlife spotting. Despite its creature comforts, the experience still manages to be authentic adventure travel, and is open to anyone.

    Raja Ampat Islands

    The remote, still-being-discovered Raja Ampat Islands: off Papua's northwest tip are a diver's dream. Raja Ampat is home to the greatest diversity of marine life on the planet, from giant manta rays and epaulette sharks that use their fins to 'walk' on the sea floor, to myriad multicoloured nudibranchs ('sea slugs'), fantastic pristine coral, and every size, shape and hue of fish you can imagine. The snorkelling is great too, while the above-water scenery – white-sand beaches, turquoise seas and jungle-covered islands – is almost as sublime as what is underwater.

    Jakarta Nightlife

    If you have the stamina, Jakarta: has the action. It is one of Southeast Asia's best-kept party secrets, from superstylin' lounges frequented by the oh-so-beautiful crowd, to low-key bars where the soundtrack is vintage 1970s funk, alt-rock music venues and electro clubs where DJs attain messiah-like status. How long the party will last is uncertain. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim nation where traditions run deep, and attitudes toward the nightlife scene are changing with conservatives lobbying for club curfews and strict alcohol laws. But for now people party on.

    Karimunjawa

    Set 90km off the north coast of Central Java is an archipelago as little-visited as any in east Indonesia, yet still accessible by ferry and flights from Semarang and Surabaya. The Karimunjawa Islands are a group of 27 coral-fringed beauties, but only five are inhabited. Most of the islands are accessible on day tours that allow visitors to get a taste of undiluted tropical paradise: white-sand beaches fringed by swaying coconut palms. Base yourself on the mountainous and jungly main island of Karimunjawa:, which has fine beaches too, and prepare to be enraptured.

    Pulau Bunaken

    You know those gardens that seem to have hundreds of plant species artistically thriving together in small decorative plots? Now imagine that done with coral in every colour from stark black and white to intense purples. Next cover it all in clear water teeming with iridescent fish, some in thick schools fluttering like sprinkles of sunlight. The water around Pulau Bunaken: is more beautiful than you could imagine and yet it gets better: turtles the size of armchairs, reef sharks and, if you're lucky, dolphins and dugongs that swim casually through the scene.

    Baliem Valley

    Trekking in the Baliem Valley: is the highlight of a trip to Papua for most visitors and takes you into the world of the Dani, a mountain people whose traditional culture still stands proud despite changes wrought by the Indonesian government and Christian missionaries. You'll sleep in their villages of grass-roofed huts, climb narrow jungle trails, traverse panoramic open hillsides, cross raging rivers by wobbly hanging footbridges, and be charmed by the locals' smiles. Tip for those bridges: don't look down at the water, but do be careful where you're putting your feet!

    Togean Islands

    Almost smack on the equator, the blissful, off-grid Togean Islands: are an unadulterated vision of the tropics, with blinding white-sand beaches fringed by coconut palms, a smattering of fishing villages, homestay digs, and world-class snorkelling and diving on majestic coral reefs. There's also plenty of wildlife to see in the jungle interiors of the islands themselves. Things are so mellow here that there’s even a jellyfish lake where the jellies don’t sting. You can forget all about news headlines and Facebook updates – internet access and cellular coverage is near zero.

    Volcanoes

    Indonesia’s countless volcanoes don’t get much smaller and more perfectly formed than Gunung Api:, a miniature Mt Fuji, which shelters the natural harbour of the Banda Islands. Topping out at a rather diminutive 656m, it erupted as recently as 1988 and can be climbed in an arduous three hours. Among the many others worth exploring are Bali's Agung, Lombok's Rinjani, Java's Bromo and the infamous Krakatau, although frequent eruptions mean that you'll need to check the current activity status of any volcano before climbing it. Guides are almost always recommended. One reward: stunning summit sunrises.

    Gunung Leuser National Park

    This vast and little-visited expanse of steamy tropical jungle: draped across the mountains and valleys of northern Sumatra has its own unique ecosystem. Filled with cheeping, squeaking, growling animal life, it's paradise and fantasy for both naturalists and an adventure travellers. Sitting pretty beside a chocolate-coloured river, the village of Ketambe is a relaxing place to rest up for a few days. More importantly, it makes a great base camp for multiday hiking expeditions in search of howling gibbons, lethargic orang-utans and maybe even a tiger or two.

    Ubud

    Famous in books and movies, the artistic heart of Bali exudes a compelling spiritual appeal. The streets are lined with galleries where artists, both humble and great, create. Beautiful dance performances showcasing the island's rich culture grace a dozen stages nightly. Museums honour the works of those inspired here over the years, while people walk the rice fields to find the perfect spot to sit in a lotus position and ponder life's endless possibilities. Ubud: is a state of mind and a beautiful state of being.

    Indonesian Food

    When you eat in Indonesia:, you savour the essence of the country. The abundance of rice reflects Indonesia's fertile landscape, the spices are reminiscent of a time of trade and invasion, and the fiery chilli echoes the passion of the people. Chinese, Portuguese, colonists and traders have all influenced the flavours, which include coriander, lemon grass, coconut and palm sugar. Sate (skewered meat), nasi goreng (fried rice) and gado gado (vegetables with peanut sauce) are justly famous, but every region of Indonesia has its own unique and delicious variations.

    Borobudur

    The breathtaking Borobudur temple complex: is a stunning and poignant epitaph to Java's Buddhist heyday in the 9th century and is a highlight of a visit to Indonesia. One of the most important Buddhist sites in the world and one of the finest temple complexes in Southeast Asia, the temple consists of six square bases topped by three circular ones. Nearly 3000 bass-relief panels on the terraces illustrate Buddhist teachings and tales, while 432 Buddha images sit in chambers on the terraces.

    Kerobokan

    South Bali's Kerobokan:, and its neighbours Seminyak and Canggu, may be just north of notorious Kuta, but in many respects the trio feel like another island. They're flash, brash and filled with hipsters and expats. It's beguiling, rarefied and just this side of too-cool. The beach is part of a stunning swath of sand stretching to the horizon in both directions. Countless boutiques, many run by top local designers, vie for your daytime attention. At night have a fabulous meal, then hit a club.

    Kerinci Valley

    Detour from bustling Bukittinggi to West Sumatra’s Kerinci Valley:, a stunning mountain wilderness that's perfect for off-grid adventures. You'll venture through a hugely photogenic landscape of lakes, forests, waterfalls, lush rice paddies and low-key traditional villages. For those after something more strenuous, take up the challenge of the Kerinci volcano that looms above the valley and tackle it in a tough overnight climb. If wildlife is your passion, go in search of monkeys, civets, hundreds of bird species and the elusive Sumatran tiger in Kerinci Seblat National Park.

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